The mood what light and loose in Pitman High’s dugout on Wednesday when the Pride hosted Golden Valley High in the final baseball game of the 2015 Central California Conference season. A day removed from dominating the Cougars 14-1 through five innings, the Pride (22-5 overall, 13-2 CCC) knew that they would soon be celebrating the best regular season performance in Pitman High baseball history with the program’s first ever CCC championship victory.
Still, the knowledge of impending glory did not make Pitman complacent. Instead of letting the game run its course and waiting to be crowned champions, Pitman’s players took control of the game and ended the season the way they wanted — again dominating the Cougars and winning via ten-run rule after six innings, 11-1.
“Coming into the season we knew the players we had, we knew the potential, it was just going to be a matter of if we were going to put the pieces together. We did,” Pitman High head coach John Acha said. “These guys are battlers. We won a lot of close games, and I think it showed at the end of the season.”
On Tuesday, Pitman won its penultimate game of the regular season with four multi-run innings which included a grand slam by Zach Wichman in the top of the fifth inning that sealed victory for the Pride. The scoring trend continued on Wednesday as Pitman scored runs in the first, second and fourth innings before opening up its offense in the bottom of the sixth inning with seven runs.
“They have a lot of fun out here. We play loose, but they’re able to flip the switch when we need to,” Acha said.
Pitman’s steady start against Golden Valley began in the first inning with a Jordan Aguiniga RBI single that crossed Wichman and was continued in the second inning with a RBI triple from Daren Finney that crossed Josh Rodriguez before Finney crossed the plate himself on a through ball to make it 3-0.
After a tag-up score from Finney on a Aguiniga fly out in the bottom of the fourth inning and a Golden Valley score in the top of the sixth off of Cougar CJ Souza’s bat, it was time for Pitman to flip the switch.
Leading 4-1 in the bottom of the sixth inning, Pitman’s Coleton Horner crossed Finney with a RBI single to begin the seven-run close out. Donovan Bravo followed with a tag-up score on another Aguiniga fly out. Josh Hernandez hit a RBI double that crossed Wichman, Ryan Sather crossed Horner with a RBI single and Benjamin Lascano notched a 2RBI double that crossed Hernandez and Rodriguez to make to it 10-1. That’s when Finney stepped up to the plate and notched a RBI single that crossed Sather and provided an early end to Tuesday’s game.
“The biggest thing I can say for these guys is when one guy struggled another guy stepped right up in there, and that’s what you need,” Acha said.
The Pride will now enter the postseason having won eight of their last nine games, during which time they’ve outscored their opponents 67 runs to 19.
“The guys we have here, we’ll keep them in check and focused. And they want it,” Acha said of the upcoming Sac-Joaquin Section Division I Championships. “They got this taste here and we’ve got a couple guys on this team that were with us in the playoff run a couple years ago. They know what it takes and they’re hungry.”